Musician who fled Colombia finds his forte in Canada

Ruben Esguerra fled conflict in Colombia and found a warm welcome in Canada, where he uses music to build bridges in the community.

Ruben Esguerra, 37, arrived in Canada 28 years ago after fleeing conflict in Colombia.

Ruben Esguerra, 37, arrived in Canada 28 years ago after fleeing conflict in Colombia.

“The music that I play is what saved me,” he says. “When you have to flee abruptly, you begin to find home not in terms of place, but the likeminded people who make you feel welcome – who make you feel like family.”

In Canada, Ruben worked his way to a PHD and now uses his music to educate and work with at-risk youth.

“I'm hoping to create bridges,” he says.

Then and Now is a series of stories profiling refugees who have come to Canada over the years, in search of safety, stability and a chance at a better life. Starting from 1956, when Canada accepted its first major intake of refugees, the project uses archived images and family photos to tell the stories of refugees from Hungary, Viet Nam, Uganda, Somalia, Colombia, Cambodia, Burundi and El Salvador.